- The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Biden administration is vowing to deliver “aggressive” speedy deportations against the illegal immigrants expected to surge the border in the coming weeks.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas released a 20-page document laying out “pillars” of action, including more resources at the border, better efficiency in processing illegal immigrants, closer cooperation with nonprofit organizations to care for the migrants, and working with foreign countries to try to stop people from making the trip.

Mr. Mayorkas also pledged to step up the use of “expedited removal,” a speedy deportation tool, which senior officials said will see “aggressive application” in the coming months.

The new get-tough strategy seeks to combat the fears of Republicans and Democrats alike that President Biden has no plan for the looming chaos on the border.

Mr. Mayorkas is preparing for the end of Title 42, the pandemic border emergency shutdown that had allowed his department to quickly expel illegal immigrants, deterring some illegal immigrants from attempting the journey.

The administration says Title 42 will end May 23, and experts say that will unleash pent-up demand, with Homeland Security expecting as many as 18,000 people a day to jump the border. That would be nearly triple the current figure, which is already running at record levels.

SEE ALSO: Justices challenge Biden administration’s catch-and-release policy

Facing those numbers, Republicans and some Democrats — particularly those who have to face voters in November or represent border areas — have said the administration has no plan to deal with the problem.

Tuesday’s memo was meant to counter that.

“DHS has been actively planning for the end of Title 42, really since the initial Title 42 order was issued more than 2 years ago,” a senior official told reporters.

Officials also moved to shift some of the blame for the looming surge, saying plenty of other countries are seeing migrant surges, too.

And officials said Congress is to blame for a broken immigration system that’s left the government ill-prepared to deter border jumpers.

“Despite the efforts of our dedicated DHS workforce and our partners executing this comprehensive plan, a significant increase in migrant encounters will substantially strain our system even further,” Mr. Mayorkas said in his memo. “We will address this challenge, but it will take time, and we need partnership and support to do so successfully. We are also operating within a fundamentally broken immigration system that only Congress can fix.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell swatted down that blame-shifting.

“That’s absurd,” he said in a speech Tuesday on the Senate floor. “The legislative branch has already given them the tool. It’s the same tool they’ve been using this whole time. They just need to have the courage to tell the radical left to take a hike and keep sending these folks back to their home countries.”

He said any blame in Congress lies with Democrats who have enabled Mr. Biden’s policies.

Under Title 42, begun by the Trump administration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, illegal immigrants who showed up at the border could be immediately expelled, usually to Mexico. The argument was that they risked further spread of the coronavirus.

Nearly 2 million expulsions have taken place under the policy. Immigrant-rights advocates say some of those were asylum seekers with legitimate claims who were sent back to dangerous conditions.

A federal judge in Louisiana announced a ruling Monday that would block next month’s Title 42 phaseout.

Administration officials said Tuesday they will comply with that ruling, but also called it wrong. They said using expedited removal is more powerful than Title 42 since it can carry longer-term immigration consequences.

Mr. Mayorkas released his border plan just before he’s slated to testify three times before congressional committees this week.

His department’s planning for the end of Title 42 is expected to dominate those hearings, and the document gives him a concrete answer to some of those questions.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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